otherwise under the control of medical officers; (3) men who had been honorably discharged on account of wounds or other disability resulting from military service. Officers as well as soldiers were received from these three classes, and from these alone.
The material thus obtained was at first organized into companies and battalions of infantry. The companies were composed of men from various States, and often from all the different arms of the service, thus adding to the ordinary, difficulties of organization, discipline, and instruction. These were, however, rapidly overcome through the industry, zeal, and ability with which the instructions of the Bureau were carried out by the officers of the corps, who were selected with great care and regard both to gallantry and fitness.
Before the end of June, 1863 (priorement of the first draft), sixteen companies of the First Battalion and six of the Second Battalion were in readiness for duty. The number rapidly increased until the returns of October 31, 1863, showed the corps to consist of 491 officers and 17,764 enlisted men.
The First Battalion companies were composed of men capable of carrying muskets and performing garrison duty. The Second Battalion companies were composed of men of na inferior degree of physical ability, but who were fit for hospital duty, as guards, clerks, attendants, &c. They were armed with swords and pistols.
On the 5th of September, 1863, the organization of regiments was authorized. Each regiment was made to comprise six companies of the First Battalion and four of the Second, the design being that each regiment thus constituted should be able to furnish proper details at any point where it might be stationed for garrison and hospital duty.
After trial it was found best to have the regiments composed only of First Battalion companies, and their organization was modified accordingly. The seconanies were retained as separate organizations, and were finally, March 21, 1865, turned over to the Medical Department of the Army, for which they had always been mainly intended.
On the 1st of October, 1864, the corps consisted of 764 commissioned officers and 28,738 enlisted men, organized into 24 complete infantry regiments of the First Battalion and 153 unassigned companies of the Second Battalion.
On the 31st of May, 1865, the corps consisted of 762 commissioned officers and 29,852 enlisted men.
As soon as it was ascertained, in April, 1865, that the rebellion was overcome, the appointment of officers and the enlistment and transfer of men to the corps were discontinued. The orders of the War Department for the reduction of the vast Volunteer Army were made so far applicable to the Veteran Reserve Corps as to allow the discharge of allt. This resulted in reducing the corps by the 31st of December, 1865, to 644 commissioned officers and less than 1,000 enlisted men. The men were consolidated into independent companies and officered, and the remainder of the officers not on special service were ordered to their homes to await instructions. Two hundred and ninety-five of the officers are on duty in the Freedmen's Bureau.
On the 13th of December, 1865, a resolution passed the House of Representatives requesting the Secretary of War to suspend action as to mustering out the officers of the corps until the subject could be considered by Congress.
Over 60,000 men entered the Veteran Reserve Corps, and at one time it was twice as large as was the entire Regular Army at the commencement